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Friday, January 11, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 4. Miami Heat

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  11-3 , first place Southeast Division




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This Month:

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Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)
  • Points Scored: 104.8 (1st)
  • Points Allowed: 100.3 (26th)
  • Team FG%: .494 (1st)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .442 (19th)
  • Rebounds per game: 39.6 (27th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 40.7 (8th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.5 (9th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.4 (20th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of November 30th)
  • Scoring (ppg): Lebron James (25.2)
  • Rebounds per game:  Lebron James (8.8)
  • Minutes per game: Lebron James (37.2)
  • Assists per game: Lebron James (6.5)
  • Steals per game:  Mario Chalmers (1.7)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Chris Bosh (1.3)

Worst Player of the Month:  Mario Chalmers


Last season Mario Chalmers had what can be considered a breakthrough posting his best numbers (9.8ppg, .448 FG%, .388 3ptFG%) since his rookie year and looked to build on that progress.  Unfortunately, he has started the season on a rather sour note as all his numbers have dropped across the board (6.7ppg, .405 FG%, .355 3ptFG%) while shooting a rather embarassing .632 from the free throw line.  Chalmers certainly no longer resembles  that tough confident role player who Run LDC (Lebron, Dwayne and Chris) could count on a corner three if they ever needed to kick the ball outside to somebody.  Now that's no longer the case as he has become less of a factor on the team--so much so that it may be time for Miami to part ways with this rather disappointing performer.  Hopefully, he can turn things around before Erick Spoelstra decides to finally pull the plug on him shelving him in favor of second year backup Norris Cole.  

First Player of the Month: Rashard Lewis


Last season, Rashard Lewis represented the very worst of the NBA as he sat on his backside sulking on the bench for the Washington Wizards.  He had no excuse either considering the fact that he was one of the top earners in the league last season earning around 20$ million for doing virtually nothing.  When the Heat claimed him off waivers, the news came with quite a few raised eyebrows as Lewis was a player that went totally against the Heat's culture--he was a soft big man who never defended in the paint and whose only weapon in his offensive arsenal was his long range perimeter shot which seemed to be have all but disappeared.  Surprsingly however, he has proven his critics and doubters wrong coming off the bench and producing solid numbers of 6.5 points per game for Miami in limited minutes (15.8) while at the same time, shooting a very efficient .509 from the field and a phenomenal .556 from beyond the arc to finish the month of November.  For the first time in what can be considered an eternity, Rashard Lewis is finally earning his paycheck--despite it being FAR Less than what he was paid last season.

Analysis:

The season has started as many expected for the NBA World Champion Miami Heat as it looked to repeat and continue their championship glory and become one of the great dynasties in not only the NBA, but in professional sports as well.  The Heat finished the month of November with a characteristic 11-3 record, but it was not the same dominant performance as many have been anticipated from a championship team of Miami's caliber.  For starters, Miami started the season lost their second game by a rather convincing margin to the New York Knicks (11/2/2012), the same team that the Heat simply manhandled in the first round of the playoffs.  They bounced back from that rather embarrassing Big Apple Beat-down by winning their next four; however, that four game winning streak ended quite poorly with a 16 point loss at the hands of  the Memphis Grizzlies (11/11/2012).  And after barely edging a rather weak Houston Rockets team on the road by just three points (11/12/2012) they were then beaten the following night in LA by the Clippers two nights later.

Although they managed to finish November winning their last five games, it was not with the same dominance as many would have expected from a reigning NBA champ.  In a schedule that can be considered pretty light by Miami Heat standards, they only managed to beat three of their eleven opponents by convincing margins--the Boston Celtics by 13 (10/30/2012), the Phoenix Suns by 25 (11/5/2012), and the Brooklyn Nets by thirty (11/7/2012).  As for the other eight games, those wins were very far from impressive as they barely beat most of them by rather close margin, an average of 4.6 points to be exact--teams that the Heat had no business to allow to come so close.  Miami allowed a team like the Denver Nuggets, who should not even hold a candle to the heat, to score 116 points on the Heat's home floor before narrowly scraping past the Nuggets by just three points (11/3/2012) and again at Denver by just five (11/15/2012).  The most embarrassing of their wins came at the expense of the Cleveland Cavaliers, one of worst teams in the league, where the Heat allowed the Cavs to score 108 points on them and then barely win by just one bucket (11/24/2012).

From what can be seen by November's rather lukewarm performance, the Heat have not played to the standard of a championship team that sports not just, or two, but three of the greatest NBA players in their generation.  Add the fact that during the offseason, Miami added one of the league's deadliest three point shooters in former NBA Champion Ray Allen combined with the returning players that brought a second NBA title to South Beach, the Heat should be an even more devastating force than they ever were last season.  Unfortunately that has not been the case as Miami, despite boasting the fact of having four potential hall of famers in its lineup, has yet to strike fear in the hearts and minds of their opponents.  They certainly do not strike fear amongst their fellow upper echelon peers as can be seen by their drubbing at the hands of the Knicks nor even amongst the best in their conference.  They do not even garner any real respect from their own division, which many expected the Heat to own this season as it was projected to be one of the weakest divisions in the league with the four other team either in the midst or on their way to head for a painful rebuild.

For starters, the Atlanta Hawks, who were expected to sink like a stone upon entering the season have thus far been nipping at Miami's heels at second place in the Southeast division with just a game or two behind them.  In their first matchup, the Heat narrowly edged Atlanta on the Hawks' home court by just six points (11/9/2012) and this was a team that currently has no real go to scorer, nor nearly the amount of depth in terms of size, talent and athletic ability that the Heat supposedly has.  Even the Washington Wizards, a team that finished the month November winning just one game, had nothing to fear from the Heat as they started November shockingly defeating Miami earning just their second win for the season. In that game, Miami allowed Washington--a team who ranks dead last in the league in points scored at under 90 per game and at the time shot just .396 from the field--to score a season high 105 points on them and shoot a season's best .486 from the field.  That is certainly not becoming of a team whose proclaimed goal supposedly was to finish amongst the greatest NBA teams if all time--in fact, it is downright shameful.

If one looks back at all the great Championship dynasties in the NBA, the most common facet of them was their intimidation factor--no one wanted to face because they just frozen in fear when they came to their arenas.  Just take a look back at the great dynasties that the NBA has ever seen:  the Red Aurbach led Boston Celtics teams in the 1950s and 60s, the "Showtime" Lakers of the 1980s, the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls that basically owned the 1990s, and even the "Bad Boy" Detroit Pistons team that finished a decade winning two consecutive NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.  These teams were simply unstoppable forces of nature destorying everything in their path divining hoops fans to either look upon them with great awe and admiration or just simply resent them for their invincibility and their home team's inability to stop them.  None of that can be said for the Miami Heat, who have played just lukewarm at best so far this season only encouraging fans and opponents alike to simply shrug their shoulders and say "whatever, man!!"  Because right now, the Heat have not shown that are deserving of any respect whatsoever, and if Miami continues to play the way they have been, it will no doubt remain so.